Just Opened: The Hudson River Skywalk
Your complete itinerary for a visit to New York’s newest cultural destination.
May 1, 2019 11:30 am
You’re going on an adventure. It will be beautiful, it will be cultural, and there will be good food. The Hudson River Skywalk is a new scenic walkway over the Hudson River connecting the homes and studios of the Hudson River School artists, Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, leading artists of the 19th century. The Skywalk is now open and puts you right in the middle of their landscape paintings. It’s a special place where you can almost transcend time. See America’s first canvas with sweeping views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley from a walkway high above the Hudson River. But where do you start?
The Hudson River Skywalk Region includes the City of Hudson, the Village of Catskill and the new Hudson River Skywalk over the Hudson River, just two hours north of New York City by car or by Amtrak train. This place is worth an extended vacation, but if you only have a weekend to escape here’s the perfect itinerary for you.
Plan to arrive hungry for dinner on Friday night and scope out the incredible restaurant selection in downtown Hudson. There is Fish & Game, Food Studio, and Grazin just to name a few but really the options are endless and all delicious. After dinner, you have your choice of artisan cocktails at The Maker, outdoor seating and snacks at Backbar, or late night dancing at the Half Moon. In Catskill, HiLo is the go-to for local beers and cutting-edge live music late into the night. Both Hudson and Catskill offer boutique bed and breakfasts and the new hotel by the Hudson Amtrak Station, The Wick, has lots of rooms.
Saturday is going to be a big day. Start off in Catskill at the new Circle W Market to grab a leisurely coffee and breakfast on Main Street. Pro tip: grab sandwiches for your Hudson River Skywalk picnic later. You can walk or drive from Main Street to the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, one of the Skywalk anchors. Discover the home, studios and grounds of the artist Thomas Cole, founder of America’s first major art movement now known as the Hudson River School. Take a guided tour in May or grab an “explore at your own pace” ticket available in June and July. Hear Cole’s own words echoing throughout his home (thanks to the voice of actor Jamie Bell) conveying Cole’s passionate concern for the environment. Take in the “wow” view of the Catskill Mountains from the porch, a view that Cole painted more than any other and hangs on the walls of The Met and many other museums across the county. Visit the New Studio building and museum gallery to see the new exhibition Thomas Cole’s Refrain: The Paintings of Catskill Creek. Feel the magic in Cole’s light-filled Old Studio building that looks as if the artist has just stepped out.
Walk out the back of the historic site and down the hill to the Hudson River. It should only take about 3 minutes but you can also drive and park at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Step out onto the walkway along the Bridge and experience the thrill. The walkway is suspended hundreds of feet in the air above the Hudson River making you feel as though you’ve just stepped into a landscape painting. The Catskill Mountains stretch along the horizon as far as the eye can see and the river rushes underneath you. It is sublime.
For those of you looking for exercise, keep on walking across the river to the visit Frederic Church’s Olana, the other anchor of the Hudson River Skywalk. The distance between the sites is three miles one way if you’re looking to catch a taxi or Uber and six miles round trip for the real outdoor enthusiasts. You can also hop back in your car for a scenic drive to the top of Olana if you prefer. Olana is the greatest masterpiece of the artist Frederic Edwin Church. The sprawling 250-acre estate offers jaw-dropping 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape. Church designed Olana as a holistic environment integrating his advanced ideas about art, architecture, landscape design, and environmental conservation. At the top of the hill, pull out your picnic lunch and settle in for the most picturesque meal you’ve ever had. Visit Church’s Persian-inspired house at Olana’s summit that features stunning interiors and decorative art objects on a guided tour or an “explore at your own pace” ticket. Don’t miss the new exhibition opening May 12: "In Frederic Church’s Ombra: Architecture in Conversation with Nature.” Linger in the evening to catch the spectacular sunset from Olana over the entire Hudson River Skywalk Region.
Saturday night is the perfect time for dinner and a performance. Check out season lineups at the Lumberyard Center for Film and Performing Arts in Catskill and Hudson Hall in Hudson. Many of their productions are NYC bound so you can catch the first performances right here in the Hudson River Skywalk Region.
It’s already Sunday and you haven’t fully explored Hudson and Catskill. Stroll the historic downtowns and pop in and out of one-of-a-kind-shops. Grab a coffee and a pastry to fuel your shopping. It takes a keen eye to select that perfect antique or locally-made ware that you literally cannot find anywhere else. Take your outing to the next level with a visit to Basilica Hudson, an arts center in a soaring industrial space right next to the Hudson Amtrak station. The Basilica offers an impressive lineup of seasonal markets and design fairs, as well as multidisciplinary arts programming. Lose yourself in the sprawling Antique Warehouse right next door.
As this weekend comes to a close, we hope you consider coming back for more. Fine-tune your own itinerary and make the Hudson River Skywalk Region your go-to adventure.